Occupational Therapy major Alyssa Eckstein ’24 will be studying abroad in Viterbo, Italy during the spring of 2023.
Ever since discovering that studying abroad was an option in college, I was always fascinated by the idea of immersing myself in a new culture and gaining a global mindset. I have personally never traveled outside of the country and have always been fond of the idea of visiting and even studying in Europe.
This past summer I put a tremendous amount of thought into the idea of studying abroad. After reaching out to Jaime Ramos II, he immediately began providing me with assistance and advice on how to begin the decision-making process. Based on his guidance, I crafted a list of countries that I was most interested in immersing myself in and got to work researching the cultures and overall environment. I ultimately decided to study in Viterbo, Italy for the spring semester of 2023. The deciding factors came down to types of classes (I plan to fulfill my art minor, along with some core courses), cultural atmosphere (smaller community environment), and cost.
During my decision-making process, Jaime was extremely supportive in using his knowledge to answer any questions that surfaced, as well as provide advice from personal experiences about academics and social/cultural factors abroad. If Mr. Ramos wasn’t able to answer one of my questions, he would consult the study abroad advisors through my chosen provider, USAC. My questions were and continue to be answered in a timely fashion.
After returning to campus from summer break, Jaime made all study-abroad students aware of his open-door office policy. In addition to sending emails, I took advantage of this opportunity to ask questions, discuss concerns or share exciting outlooks on studying abroad.
When it came to beginning my study abroad application process, I was able to utilize both Jaime and my assigned advisor, through USAC, to provide guidance on the completion of mandatory documents. Once accepted into the school, I was instructed to fill out documents through Etown’s study abroad and USAC’s portals. Documents such as class registration, housing, and health insurance were crucial items in the process.
The most laborious undertaking of preparing to study abroad was obtaining my Italian visa. The visa process is very intricate and required lots of patience. Depending on the consulate assigned to each individual in general, there are certain requirements on what documents need to be provided, along with if you are required to appear at the consulate in person or can send the documents in the mail. I lucked out with having the opportunity to send my documents in the mail, with official notarization from a notary. After employing a bank and on-campus notary to achieve the notarization of all my documents (roughly ten items), I sent everything to my assigned consulate, in Philadelphia. I mercifully received my visa in less than two weeks.
At this point in the study abroad process, I have completed all of the documentation needed by Etown, along with my study abroad provider, and am preparing to depart in January. With the help of Jaime, the process for applying to study abroad was not as intimidating as people make it out to be. I highly recommend considering studying abroad, as this opportunity is once in a lifetime! I am looking forward to immersing myself into a new culture, gaining a global mindset, developing major independence skills, having access to a quality education, as well as potentially expanding future employment opportunities!
Leave a Reply